This Week On The Fallon Forum: Pipeline Bullies

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Dear Friends,

Business and political leaders in Iowa have been outspoken against bullying – a problem in our classrooms, on our playgrounds and in our streets. But these same leaders ignore – and actually enable – the corporate bullying tactics of Dakota Access in its aggressive push to build the Bakken Oil Pipeline.

This was on my mind this morning when, through bleary eyes, the above-the-fold Des Moines Register headline screamed at me: “Firm: Most pipeline land secured”

Really? Sixty percent is “most?” If my kid leaves 40% of his dinner on his plate, he doesn’t get dessert. If I buy you a beer and you leave 40% in your glass, I’m unlikely to buy you another. “Most” involves a lot of grey area, but rarely does it mean a mere 60%.

Furthermore, as one reads the article, the 60% figure is highly disputed.

And as to the word “firm” – very clever double-entendre on the part of the Register’s editors, using a synonym for “company” that is never used in the article itself, while implying that the pipeline is a done deal.

There are two types of corporate bullying, and Dakota Access is good at both of them. First, there’s the direct approach:

– Tell farmers they should sign an easement or risk condemnation.

– Trespass on private property and wax defiant when confronted by landowners.

– Stockpile pipe on a central Iowa farm even before a permit has been granted.

Then there’s indirect bullying, getting others to do the bullying for you. Dakota Access’ billionaire owner, Kelcy Warren, has deep, deep pockets. He knows how to throw around his financial weight, to get others to either do his bidding or meekly step aside and abdicate their responsibility to protect the public good. Consider that:

– Warren has bought off labor unions – and along with them, the state’s Democratic leadership – with the promise of a handful of temporary jobs.

– He’s bought off the state’s Republican leadership with campaign contributions.

– Though we can’t see the smoking gun, he’s silenced the leadership of Farm Bureau, who historically would be front-and-center in any battle to protect private property from eminent domain.

– And it’s likely that Warren has bought off some of the corporate media through advertising revenue, although again, there is no discernible smoking gun . . . at least not yet.

Part of the problem is that the corporate bully is harder to identify than the playground bully. When the latter comes at you, the meanness in his eyes makes it clear you’re about to get your butt kicked. The corporate bully on the other hand smiles, wears a suit, drives a nice car, looks respectable.

And his victim doesn’t sport a black eye when the corporate bully moves on to his next target. Yet a black eye will heal far more quickly than the wounds Dakota Access threatens to inflict on our farms, our water, and our planet.

My life this year has been committed to stopping the Bakken Oil Pipeline. The work I feel called to do springs from my passion for our Earth, land and water. Yet as I walked 400-miles along the route of the proposed pipeline in March and April, my passion grew to embrace the hundreds of people I met along the way – farmers and landowners adamantly opposed to having their land condemned for a pipeline, even as some felt they had no option but to sign an easement.

I heard story after story of the bullying tactics of Dakota Access, its representatives and its surrogates. These tactics, and headlines such as the one in today’s Des Moines Register, are designed to cause despair, to make us abandon hope.

Don’t! This fight is far from over. As the battle shifts from legislative chambers to the Iowa Utilities Board office and Iowa’s courtrooms, never forget that on our side we have truth in a just cause. I leave you with this quote from Gandhi:

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”

Join us live on The Fallon Forum, Mondays 11:00-12:00 noon CDT on KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. Call (515) 528-8122 to add your voice to the conversation. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m., and Wednesday on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m. Podcasts are available at

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

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